ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban on Saturday claimed their representatives recently visited China to discuss a joint stance against the invasion in Afghanistan and the region.
The Taliban delegation traveled from its Qatar-based political office to China this month, weeks after the group refused to take part in the peace process under a quartet of which Beijing is also a member.
The Express Tribune has learnt that China wants to play an ‘active role’ in the peace negotiations if all sides “agree to this role” as it enjoys good relations with both Afghanistan and Taliban.
“I can confirm that our delegation had visited China to discuss matters between both countries. They discussed the invasion in the region and to adopt a joint stance against the malicious policies of the invading countries,” the Taliban leader said.
“Policies of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) about the region and the world also came under discussion,” a Taliban official told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
The official did not make any comment on the possibility of peace talks between the group and the Afghan government. But sources familiar with the visit said both sides “explored prospects” for a political dialogue as Beijing could be an ‘honest broker’ to start the peace process.
Taliban did not share information as to who held talks in China; however, a dissident group says the head of the Taliban political office, Sher Abbas Stanekzai, led the delegation.
Qari Hamza, spokesman for ‘Fidaye Mahaz’ group says the Taliban leaders visited China from July 18 to July 22. “The Taliban leaders held talks with the intelligence officials of China, the US and and foreign countries and reached a deal with them,” Hamza said in a statement sent to The Express Tribune.
Taliban leaders have previously visited China on several occasions while Chinese officials have also met members of the group in Qatar. China had also hosted Taliban officials of the govt-backed High Peace Council in Urumqi earlier last year.
In November last year, China’s special envoy for Afghanistan Deng Xijun told The Express Tribune in Islamabad that China has offered to host a meeting between Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives should the two sides so desire, but refused to ‘mediate’ peace negotiations between them.
Taliban leaders traveled to China weeks after Beijing delivered military equipment to Afghanistan for the first time. The Taliban spokesperson refused to comment on Chinese arms delivery when The Express Tribune sought his reaction on the matter.